Fallon’s Lite Ads a Throwback

“Miller Time” rewinds to the 1970s in Fallon McElligott’s new campaign for Miller Lite, which features retired jocks and entertainers bantering over the brand’s best qualities.
The campaign stresses taste as Miller Lite’s standout quality in the light beer field with the tagline, “Miller Lite. The great taste of a true pilsner beer.” In between good-natured professional gibes, ex-athletes whose best playing days are long gone disagree over why Miller Lite is great: because of the “choice hops” or “because it’s smooth.”
It’s a throwback to the “Great taste. Less filling” campaign that the brand used to own the category in the 1970s and ’80s, when ex-jocks like Bubba Smith and Billy Martin shilled for Miller Lite. This time the stars include baseball greats George Brett and Robin Yount; former footballers Dan Fouts and Kenny Stabler; and musical group Earth, Wind & Fire.
One veteran beer creative questioned the strategy, suggesting the work is aimed more at Miller’s distributors. “They’re trying to make the wholesalers happy again,” he said. “The happiest time in these guys’ lives was [during] the jocks campaign.”
Others noted the campaign’s stars probably aren’t that well-known among younger drinkers. Jack Rooney, vice president of marketing at Miller, dismissed such criticism.
“One of the great myths in advertising is that to appeal to a generation you have to portray them on the screen,” Rooney said. “If it’s well-conceived and well-written, it’s less important who is giving the message.”
Interspersed with the celebrity spots will be 15-second straight-product spots, with beer pours backed by voiceovers on specific attributes of Miller Lite. Wieden & Kennedy’s work for Miller Genuine Draft was also shown to distributors last week, but after press time. It also was expected to concentrate on brand attributes.
The taste strategy for Miller Lite came from the brewer, with creative executions carried out by Fallon and four other agencies in a review that ended in January with the Minneapolis shop keeping creative duties for the $150 million account.
The “Miller Time” theme developed as part of Fallon’s first effort will be relegated to some Miller High Life advertising and promotions, Rooney said.